Christmas comes early for entangled humpback whale in the Bay of Fundy

Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Grand Manan, Canada
A collaborative effort from IFAW's (International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org)  Campobello Whale Rescue Team (CWRT), the Centre for Coastal Studies, DFO agents and a fisherman from the region of Grand Manan helped a 40 foot humpback whale be freed from 75 lobster traps and their connecting ropes and anchors and a certain death, today in the Bay of Fundy.
The CWRT received a call yesterday from a lobster fisherman off the south of Grand Manan explaining that a humpback whale was trapped in his equipment and seemed to be carrying the gear of other fishermen as well. Because of the bad sea conditions, the fisherman communicated the exact location to the CWRT and left the area.
 
At 8:00am this morning, the sea was calm enough to go rescue the whale named PEZ. Mackie Green, leader of the CWRT, two DFO agents and a member of the Centre for Coastal Studies travelled an hour and a half through rough seas to find the whale had managed to swim a mile carrying a load of equipment of over 4000 pounds and then got entangled in a third set of ropes, traps and anchors.
 
“He was wound up very badly in rope. He would have died for sure if we hadn’t set him free” explained Mackie Green, shortly after the intervention.
 
The operation took about an hour in which time three knives were broken and three poles were lost because of the massive amount of rope wrapping the whale.
 
The weight of the equipment mixed with the rough sea conditions left the whale bruised and beaten.  Mackie did not stop until all the ropes and gear were removed including a 6 foot long piece of rope from his mouth.  The rescue team suspects he might have lost the use of one of his eyes. Fortunately, it was a complete success and PEZ was completely freed from all fishing gear
 
“If it was not for the fisherman making the distress call this whale would be dead which is one of the reasons why IFAW’s collaboration with fisherman through the CWRT is vital” said Deb Gleason, Emergency Relief Campaigner with the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

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